I've read two of Karen Young's books and loved them, so I wanted to interview her about this new one. Welcome, Karen. Why do you write the kind of books you do?
That would be Christian fiction with mystery and romantic elements, right? It’s a long story. I’ll try to condense it. My career, which began in the secular market, had from the beginning mystery and romance elements. After writing 35 books, I decided to retire. But after a few months of idleness, I realized retirement could wait. A writer friend happened to comment, “Karen, don’t retire. You should be writing Christian fiction.” As it happened, my spiritual life had been renewed as I became more active in my church. So I came up with a plot idea that I felt would work well as Christian fiction, which was MISSING MAX, a story of a family in crisis when their child is kidnapped. But my agent was unenthusiastic. In spite of that, I still continued to develop the plot. One afternoon, Debbie Macomber, a friend of thirty years, called me out of the blue and said she knew of a publisher who was looking for an experienced author to write Christian fiction. Would I allow her to suggest my name? So, within a few weeks, I had a three-book contract. Oddly, the first book wasn’t MISSING MAX. Instead, the sales people chose BLOOD BAYOU, a romantic suspense. So I was off and running on an entirely new career in the CBA. I believe God’s hand set in motion the circumstances that ended with me writing books containing a faith journey. I can only say I’m humbly grateful.
Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
That is really hard to say. I’m basically an optimistic person. I have three wonderful daughters with good husbands and five grandsons who give me much joy. I have loads of friends. I have a challenging and satisfying career. Sprinkled throughout my years of marriage and the ups and downs of a busy life, I had many days that stand out as happy. But to name any single day, I don’t think I can.
How has being published changed your life?
It’s hard to remember since I have been published since 1981. J But I’ll try. I often say that I didn’t choose writing as a career, but that it chose me. My husband’s career took us to many places with many changes for our family. As a result of those frequent moves, there seemed no time for me to build a career, so I started writing—almost as a lark. It gave me something to do when our daughters entered new schools and my husband got involved in a new job and after setting up a new household I had time on my hands. I sent that first manuscript off to a publisher without knowing anything about the business, never having met a writer, let alone an editor or an agent. About six weeks later, I was astonished to get a call from an editor with an offer to buy that book. What a change it made. From that day forward, I threw myself into writing the next book…and the next…and the next. So no matter where we wound up, geographically speaking, I had my typewriter (and then my word processor) and the next deadline. I honestly think we could have wound up in Timbuctoo and I would have barely noticed.
What are you reading right now?
I’m in a book club, so some of the following are selections I probably never would have chosen otherwise: The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo; People of the Book; The Guernsey Literary and Potato Pie Society; The Reaper; The Sentry. (All on my Kindle.)
What is your current work in progress?
Title: UNSPOKEN. My agent suggested I come up with a very southern story (and since I’m very southern, that was easy). A young woman who endured a childhood watching her father abuse her mother returns to
, when her mother develops Alzheimer’s Disease. Only to be plunged into the mystery of her father’s death years before. Complicating things is the man she once thought she’d marry before her father put a stop to their youthful romance. He’s now a cop and wants to reopen the case of her father’s death. She wants everything about her past to stay buried…unspoken as it were. Holyfield, Mississippi
What would be your dream vacation?
A trip to
China and . Early in my marriage I lived in Japan for three years. I would love to go back…and then onto China and Hong Kong. I’m fascinated with Asian cultures. Japan
How do you choose your settings for each book?
Maybe because I’ve lived in so many places, I have chosen various settings—
Houston, Boston, Kansas, , etc., etc. But I don’t think I have strong feeling for settings as some authors do. When I’m coming up with the plot of a story, it usually doesn’t matter much where it happens…unless it’s Louisiana. Now that place comes alive in my books! Florida
If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?
Oh, this is really hard. Certainly no movie star. Or media person. Can it be a couple? I’d like to spend an evening with Laura and George W. Bush. Living in Texas, I am aware that they are “down-home” folks who often issue casual invitations to their home to their many friends. I’d love to get an invitation from them. I admire Laura’s passion for books and her zeal to push literacy issues. Also, I thought she was a terrific First Lady. I admire them as parents, too, who have influenced their daughters to pursue worthwhile goals as they’ve matured. I also admire their dignity in the face of much hostility.
I so agree with you on that assessment. And I'd love to join you visiting with them. What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
Gardening. I just wish we weren’t having such a horrible drought in Houston because it makes working in my yard dangerously hot. But, you know what? Having a deadline always looming makes it difficult to have a truly time-consuming hobby such as quilting or art or travel. Take pottery making, for example. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at that. Also, I’m polishing up my skills on the piano. It’s amazing how rusty you get when you haven’t practiced much in years, but then, once you sit down and start playing again, it all comes back. Sort of like riding a bicycle. (But I’m not taking biking up, thank you.)
What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
I tend to procrastinate. I also know, from many years writing and knowing many authors, that this is common. But knowing I have a set number of pages to write each day and simply sitting down and getting busy doing it is something I struggle with. I will go to extreme ends to avoid getting started. I will clean out the garage, I will rearrange my pantry, I will go to the supermarket, I will…well, you get the idea. If you’d asked what is the easiest part of writing, I would have said, “Thinking up the plot!” That’s fun. It’s developing the story that’s hard. J
What advice would you give to a beginning author?
Read, read, read, especially in the genre in which you’ve decided you want to publish. Know the market. Attend writer’s meetings in your area. Get to know other writers. Get in a brainstorming group. I regret that I did not brainstorm for the first 32 books I wrote. Once I got into a good brainstorming group, I was astonished to discover that other sets of eyes and other authors’ creativity spotted pitfalls I’d overlooked (and would later struggle with) and added much to my original plots. I built a career without much of the above. Today, an aspiring writer has opportunities and tools that weren’t available in 1981.
Tell us about the featured book.
Lauren Holloway's ex-fiance, Tucker Kane, is without an alibi when his ex-wife is murdered. Tucker claims to have been alone at a job site at the time, but when he becomes the prime suspect in the murder, he asks Lauren to say he was with her. When she refuses to lie for him, Tucker suddenly vanishes without a trace. She’s left devastated and questioning her ability to judge character. Months later, she sees him at an antique fair. He worries that Lauren will reveal his carefully constructed life in hiding, so he forces himself into her hotel room and tells her that he's trying to find evidence to clear his name. Should she trust him again? After a series of incidents, Lauren becomes convinced of his innocence and tries to help him. But in doing so, the two of them uncover a labyrinth of evil and deceit, putting her very life and that of his young daughter in danger.
I can hardly wait to read it. Please give us the first page of the book.
The golden retriever was agitated from the moment Tucker Kane let him out of the company truck, dashing up to the old house and back, whining and carrying on. But as Tucker was busy maneuvering the cart up onto the porch, he didn’t pay much attention. Besides, the weather was deteriorating. Intermittent flashes of lightning meant rain any minute. He wanted to be done before it started.
A porch light would have helped. He thought he’d left it on when he dropped off his tools earlier that day, but he’d been intent on making a meeting with a city building inspector at another site, one who hadn’t shown up, to his disgust. Had the man forgotten it?
The heavy metal contraption was awkward to handle, but he finally managed to get it up the steps using a couple of old planks as a ramp. He needed the cart to transfer the wood paneling from the house to the truck. Bracing against the bars of the cart, he took his keys from his pocket.
Suddenly, fierce lightning flashed and thunder boomed. Wincing, he squinted in the dark, trying to find the right key. At his feet, Buddy crowded him, frantically pacing and whining. Some dogs were nervous in a storm, but Buddy wasn’t...usually. Still, he was clearly agitated over something, but Tucker didn’t have time to do anything about it now.
“Buddy! Calm down,” he commanded. “Sit.”
The dog instantly did as he was told, but every nerve quivered. Watching Tucker jangling keys, he literally vibrated with anxiety.
“What’s the problem, Buddy? You think we’ll find a ghost inside this old house?”
How can readers find you on the Internet?
Thank you so much, Karen, for dropping by my blog again.
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